Tag Archives: Feminist Cinema

Support the Girls

Feminist February continues with this Regina Hall-led movie about a Hooters-style sports bar and it’s staff and customers. Sounds pretty good, huh?

Support the Girls (2018)

Lisa (Hall) is general manager of a breastaurant called Double Whammies. Over the course of one patience-testing day, her eternal optimism’s challenged to the max.

Den mother to a collection of eccentric characters, including vivacious Maci (Haley Lu Richardson) and single-mother Danyelle (Shayna McHayle) – she is also deeply underappreciated by Whammie’s owner, Cubby (James Le Gros). Her boss is a racist pig-dog who doesn’t allow more than one African-American staff member on shift at any one time (or Latina, etc).

Despite continual threat of being fired, Lisa is dedicated to her job and to Whammies but more importantly to her girls, who she protects from inappropriate attention from the male patrons. She will do anything for them in fact, including raising money via a saucy car wash for one of the girls when she runs over her abusive boyfriend with her car.

Cubby is raging because a similarly-themed bar/restaurant called Mancave (pathetic) is just about to open round the corner. Positive-thinking Lisa tries to help him see that this could be a good thing but he’s not open to being swayed.

While Lisa handles Cubby and prepares Whammies for big game night – despite the fact that the cable is out and she’s in the midst of interviewing new recruits – she also has to take care of former employee Krista (!) (AJ Michalka), help struggling Danyelle and keep an eye out for Maci, who’s banging one of their much older customers. All this and her own relationship with husband Cameron which is strained to the point of trial separation.

When all this and more proves too much for our resilient girl, she decides to quit Whammies and go spend time with Cameron, despite the girls and the bar and all she’s put into it.

What will come of Lisa and her girls?

Well. I’ve been hearing good things about Support the Girls and it isn’t bad. It’s just not as fun as I expected it to be. It’s very low-key and real, like you’re sitting at a real bar listening to people with real issues and concerns.

It’s all about the women who work there and their respect for one another. Regina Hall is brilliant as always. Lisa is a lady who gets shit done while being continually shit upon by people (men) who should know better. To be honest I don’t really understand why Cubby is so down on her when she keeps the wheels of the bar so well oiled – because she is a woman and a WOC at that?

Most of the men aren’t that great. Lisa comes up against a rude biker patron who upsets one of her staff without hesitation (and police back up). Cubby obviously is an arse while Cameron has his own issues and seems unwilling to work at their marriage.

The movie is very quick to talk about fatness and that always puts me off. I can understand in an industry where looks matter so much being anything less that a perfect 10 could be a problem but I don’t want to hear it. It’s okay to be fat, you fuckers.

Anyway, the ending is empowered and testament to Lisa’s Whammies legacy. As the girls realise it’s going to be harder than they thought to get on without her, they take drastic action. And I love the cathartic closing scene very much.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my supportive girl think of this one? Would she throw a car wash for it or pull on a turtleneck instead? Find out here.

Mary Shelley

This movie would be a good contender for Feminist February so I’m almost pissed I didn’t save it. However, it was interesting to get an insight into the life of such an interesting writer, the creator of one of the most horrifying and also sympathetic horror characters of all time.

*Spoilers*

Mary Shelley (2017)

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (Elle Fanning) is a 16-year-old woman with a penchant for horror. A writer whenever she can be, she is somewhat stifled by the responsibilities of home, by her step-mother (go figure) and by the death of her mother, a wanton hussy who left the family home to embark on a live-in threesome and then pegged it. Her father tends to take the side of his horrible wife, even against his own daughter and he also critiques her writing, telling her she has to find her own voice. Gee, I sure hope she does…!

Mary has a step-sister (I think) called Claire (Bel Powley) who adores her and there might be a younger brother somewhere in the background too. Mary’s step-mother Mary Jane Clairmont (Joanne Froggatt) is a professional shit-stirrer and many times I found myself shouting the C Word at the screen when she was on it. She ribs our girl about her mother’s slutty ways and this gets Mary temporarily ejected from the family home, sent away to stay with a cousin (?) in Ireland.

The cousin, Isabel Baxter (Maisie Williams) is fun and Mary begins to enjoy her life away from home and her family. Not least because here she meets the young poet Percy Shelley (Douglas Booth), a serious charmer and all-round hot piece. As Mary and Shelley begin to nuture the spark between them, Mary is called home to deal with an emergency – the serious illness of her sister, Claire.

Mary returns home to find Claire has been faking her sickness just to get her sister home and I would have slapped her damn face for doing that to me. Mary is a little more understanding and able to handle it even better when Shelley appears on her doorstep, under the guise of being apprentice to Mary’s father, also a writer. The pair are able to pick up where they left off which is all well and good until Mary is approached by Shelley’s wife and young daughter in the street. Mrs Shelley tells her to stay away from her man or she’ll cut a bitch – and Mary denies all romantic interest in Shelley, which we all know is a goddamn lie.

Later, Shelley states that they are married in name only (that old chestnut) and that the marriage was nothing like what he’d signed up for. Mary is talked around quickly by Shelley because she wants to be but her family are outraged that Shelley would shirk his responsibilities to his wife and child so easily. Mary’s father tells her that if she sees him again then she is dead to him and – ooops – guess who she chooses?

When the time comes, Mary runs away and Claire begs her to go too. So the girls and Shelley disappear into their new life which lacks the grandeur both of them were expecting. It is free and sexy though and the girls are able to indulge their desires, e.g. drinking wine and shagging. Eventually the trio move to a house though things are still far from idyllic. Shelley is a struggling writer who has a deal but isn’t delivering the goods, they’re poor and struggling and then Mary falls pregnant. Added to this, the couple have a fight when Mary declines the sexual advances of one of Shelley’s buds. It becomes clear that Shelley has quite an open-mind when it comes to the topic of monogamy, while Mary is a one man kind of gal. They fight about who each of them believed the other to be and there is also a strong suggestion that Shelley is also schtupping Claire (though as far as I recall this is never confirmed).

Mary has the baby, Clara and all is well for a time until she passes away. Baby Clara is sickly anyway but during a mad dash from the home in the middle of the night (I think the trio are running away from creditors or the landlord), Clara catches a chill. I fully blame Shelley for this needless death and Mary’s subsequent grieving.

Claire begins shagging Lord Byron (Tom Sturridge) who invites them all to his home for a fancy retreat and Mary meets a kind (and fit) doctor who seems to dig her. Shelley gets jealous about this chemistry and throws his weight about, or is this a delayed response to the news he receives that his wife has killed herself? Either way he’s a dick. Byron too is a shit to Claire who is up the duff with his child. The take home here is ditch the zeros and go your own way, girls.

During the course of the film we are given glimpses of Mary’s interest in science and while they’re staying with Byron, the group go to a TED Talk about bringing people back to life via a spooky looking machine. Following this, a seed is planting in Mary’s mind and a monster is born. You know to which ‘monster’ I refer.

Mary of course writes Frankenstein which is an exceptional work but is not taken seriously by the publisher on Mary’s return because you guessed it, she is a lowly woman and books by women do not sell. Also, the publisher dick implies that Shelley wrote it anyway. Lo! – Shelley in the end gets the credit for Mary’s masterpiece and she is so angry they split up.

Will he do the right thing in the end and will Mary reconcile with her father? More importantly will she gain the recognition she so richly deserves for her work? Well, most of us have picked up a copy of the book with her name on the cover so that one might be a no-brainer but it’s still nice to have an insight into how this comes about.

Well, I might not have paid particular attention to the details but I did enjoy this period piece. Elle Fanning is always a delight and I presume she does Mary Shelley justice. I don’t like any of the male figures, except maybe the kindly doctor and that’s the point. This is about Mary and her journey to liberation. It’s about being taken seriously as a member of the fairer sex and of staying true to her own principles. Mary holds her head high despite the reputation she gains from being with Shelley and the shadow of who her mother was and what she did.

I love the book Frankenstein and the themes it explores – I will be picking it up again soon.

⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my heroine think of this one? Would she keep this one reanimated or refuse to publish it? Find out here.

 

And Breathe Normally

Lesbians in Iceland! Sort of. Maybe not as cheerful as that, sadly. However, Free for All Month focusses itself this week on a subtle examination of poverty, homelessness and the search for asylum. It’s bleak AF frankly but kind of sort of beautiful.

And Breathe Normally (2018), or Andið eðlilega (original title)

Two women, Lára (Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir) and Adja (Babetida Sadjo) find their lives and troubles colliding in this slow but impactful film.

Lára, an apparent former addict and her son Eldar (Patrik Nökkvi Pétursson) are on the verge of hitting rock bottom. Things are shaky as we meet them but when the pair are evicted (along with their new rescue cat), they find themselves sleeping in the car and eating free supermarket samples for dinner.

Lára manages to dress this up as an adventure to Eldar who is remarkably chill for a kid and actually, is quite sweet. Lára isn’t jobless though, she’s a trainee Immigration Officer trying to become permanent and you get the impression there’s quite a lot of competition for a job like this. Accordingly she is very thorough, so when Adja comes through passport control on her way to North America with a dodgy passport, Lára clocks it – and so begins Adja’s personal hell.

Adja it turns out is seeking asylum from her country Guinea-Bissau and is travelling with her sister and young daughter, both of who get through security and arrive at their intended destination: Canada. When she is detained, Adja claims to be travelling alone and although Lára realises otherwise, she keeps schtum. Unfortunately for Lára, she is rewarded for her eagle-eyed skills by being permitted to sit in on the initial interview with Adja. Which is all kinds of awkward.

Adja is send to a half-way house with the threat of deportation hanging over her. The refugee center isn’t great and is filled with people in similar situations. Adja witnesses one of the tenants being forcibly removed by Immigration in the middle of the night and this understandably freaks her the fuck out.

One day by chance, the two women find their lives entwined once more. Adja meets Eldar when his cat runs away – and off the back of this Lára is forced to show her kindness. This is not something she lacks, it’s just that Lára is very conscious of the consequences her actions have had for Adja. Gradually though Adja twigs that the duo have their own issues and offers them shelter in her tiny, temporary room. She also offers to babysit Eldar while Lára goes to work. This is something that seems to bring her comfort in light of being separated from her daughter, who she can only chat to on the communal payphone.

Eldar and Adja bond and it is through this interaction that we get a little insight into Adja’s life. During a conversation with her legal support, we learn she is fleeing her country because of her sexuality. With Eldar she opens up about her ‘friendship’ with her lover, who seems not to be with us anymore. While there are hints of trauma in both the women’s lives, the film does not fully go in on them and somehow the simple suggestion of them feels worse.

In the end, a decision is made about Adja’s future and she is forced to consider some very drastic action. Luckily for her she now has a new friend to look out for her – and I’m sorry but the ending of this film made me feel all the feels. These women deserve better than the hands they were dealt and hopefully, they both finally get it.

While it is bleak and cold to look at (lots of frosty tarmac surrounding the airport Lára works in), the performances are great and it is a nice story. It’s proof that you never really know what other people are going through until they show you.

The men in this movie are mostly secondary, with the exception of Eldar and I like that. Lára’s bosses are largely unsmiling and authoritative, while Adja’s fellow (male) residents are portrayed (unfairly?) as people doing what they need to do to survive (e.g. wheeling n’ dealing). At one point Adja is approached and offered sex work. But this is about the struggle and these women find common ground in one another without the usual cliché of your typical odd-couple pairing.

“Get in bitch, we’re going shopping…”

Lára is also gay and our protagonists are not thrown together sexually for the titillation of the viewer and I’m here for that (I’m also here for titillation but you know what I mean). It’s no surprise that this was written and directed by a woman, Isold Uggadottir. In her hands it is a thoughtful study on immigration and more importantly, it humanises both sides of the coin. Refugees are people with lives and loves who don’t deserve the negativity they receive, particularly in the press (shock horror!) and Lára is a human being too, just trying to do the right fucking thing.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my beloved think of And Breathe Normally? Would she deport it from her memory right away or help it escape its own nightmare? Find out here.

Bar Bahar or In Between (Film) Review

Fuck knows what our theme is anymore but who cares because next week we start the best month of the year: Halloween! So there will be tonnes of movie nastiness all over the blogs soon – but let’s not jump the gun quite yet, as we sign off September with a feminist delight.

*Minor spoilers*
*TW: rape*

Bar Bahar (or In Between) (2016)

IMDB Synopsis

Three Palestinian women living in an apartment in Tel Aviv try to find a balance between traditional and modern culture.

My Review

Leila (Mouna Hawa) and Salma (Sana Jammelieh) are progressive Palestinian girls who live and party hard together. They also look fucking cool smoking all the time – add this film to the Hot Women Smoking Hall of Fame STAT.

When their old flat mate’s cousin Noor (Shaden Kanboura) comes to live with them, they are bemused by her traditional get up and values. Leila soon starts dating Ziad (Mahmud Shalaby) while Salma gets to know Dounia (Ahlam Canaan).

Smooookin’

Noor is also involved – she is engaged to controlling fiance Wissam (Henry Andrawes) who hates the fact she now resides in Tel Aviv and that she insists on getting a job after they’re married, rather than staying home, barefoot and pregnant as scripture recommends. A fucking dickhead in other words.

The women slowly start to bond, first Salma and Noor over a hypnotic dance party in the front room, then the three of them when something awful happens to Noor at the hand of the man who supposedly loves her. Let me tell you here that the scene in which the girls tend to and comfort Noor is extremely touching.

Wissam believe that Noor has been corrupted by her forward-thinking roomies and refers to them charmingly as whores. When they find out what he’s done to their friend, they hatch a plan to rid her of him once and for all – which is a relief because she has never loved him and seems to be coming round to a less-traditional way of thinking.

I haven’t love a trio this much since We Are The Best

While Noor tries to deal with the fall out of what Wissam has done to her, Salma struggles with her family’s attitude towards her sexuality – and Leila confronts Ziad who appears to be ashamed of her and reluctant to introduce her to his family. And all the while the women grow closer and make me fall in love with each of them a hundred times over.

Will each of our heroes chose the right path for themselves, despite the consequences they may face?

My Thoughts

Man, I really liked this. It starts of kind of slow and I wasn’t sure for a split second – but then the girls start to bond and it was game over for my heart. This is all about sisterhood despite their differences, despite their circumstances – proof that kindness towards our fellow sisters is universal and it’s beautiful.

“Hi, I’m looking for Seymour Butts…”

Written and directed by Maysaloun Hamoud, it examines the contrast between traditional and modern cultures – and honestly, the men are so secondary in this – they’re just obstacles in our trio’s way.

That said when Noor calls off her wedding and comes clean to her dad, he’s a total sweetheart and tells her not to shed a tear on her horrible ex-fiance. That was a feeling moment too. I definitely recommend this, it was empowering and fun and lovely – now where’s my fucking sequel?

My Rating

4/5.

What did my angel think of this one? Would she dance in the front room with it or hide it from her family? Find out here.

Ocean’s 8

Ocean’s 8 (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Debbie Ocean gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s yearly Met Gala.

Oh YEAH.

A female-ccentric heist movie with all the glamorous trimmings and then some, this movie is a blast from start to finish. And while I was always living for the cast and the fact boys were pissed off about yet another all female-remake, I’m happy that it’s also genuinely a good movie.

Obviously I can’t pick a favourite from the cast because that would be impossible but I can say that each of Debbie Ocean’s crew get enough screen time to make you love them and that is no mean feat. Where Ocean’s 11 and it’s sequels were slick and enjoyable, Ocean’s 8 dials it down a little bit and just focuses on the fabulousness.

oceans-8-cast-women

It is a lot of fun and is stunning to look at with a wardrobe across the board to die for. The chemistry too makes it even better, though some (male) film critics have criticised the lack of it. I do not see their point at all.

The plot is not too taxing and while some of it is a little far-fetched, I don’t think any of us are here for that anyway, so who cares? What we care about is fit women getting one up on ex-boyfriends, ride or die friendship and the fulfillment of destiny, even if that destiny is just to be a really, really good criminal.

I’m in love with all eight women and I’d watch this movie again and again, if only to study the way Cate Blanchett wears her fringe because it is sublime. I also really enjoyed seeing Anne Hathaway in a sassier role, she’s a very sexy lady.

Damn, it every single one of them is hotter than Hell.

Anne-Hathaway-Oceans-8

My Rating

4.5/5.

The Witch (Film) Review

Or: Stone the Crows!

This week features a film we’ve both already seen but I feel like we come back to it a lot, much like The Babadook in discussion and certainly in comparison to other movies. Since it’s free for all month and there’s no way I could complete with last week’s joyful pick, I figured this might be fun to review. Or perhaps fun isn’t quite the term. Try harrowing, haunting, ominous AF.

*Spoilers*

The Witch (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession.

000050.6002.Witch-feature-1600x900-c-default

My Review

New England in the 1630s and William (Ralph Ineson) and his clan have just been booted from their home due to differences in religious opinion. Basically, William interprets The New Testament one way and every one else another. The fam – William and his wife Katherine, son Caleb, daughter Thomasin and the twins Mercy and Jonas – relocate far from the plantation and build their own basic farm in the woods.

Shortly after their arrival, Katherine (Kate Dickie) gives birth to her fifth child, baby Samuel. Shit hits the fan when Thomasin (the really v. good Anya Taylor-Joy) is playing peekaboo on the outskirts of the woods with the baby when he disappears. Off camera we, the viewer, learn quickly of Samuel’s fate (it ain’t a good scene, man) but the family do not and there are varied opinions as to what has become of Samuel – witch or wolf being the two options.

Katherine is devastated and spends her days crying in bed as any mother would. William, sick of nothing growing in the farm, determines than in order to survive, the men will have to learn to catch their own food. He takes his son Caleb hunting and while alone he tells him that he sold Katherine’s silver cup to buy hunting supplies. Sadly the hunt does not yield much and family life is even more tense.

All the while the twins spend an abnormal amount of time goading the family goat, Black Phillip (voice by Daniel Chaudhry). We’ll come back to him later.

the-witch-screenshot

So the finger of blame is pointing squarely at Thomasin. When Katherine finds her cup missing she insinuates that Thomasin has something to do with its disappearance too. Sure, everyone blame the baby-loser. William and Katherine argue into the night about sending her away to serve another family.

Side note: Let’s be real this isn’t a cheery yarn.

Tired of the misery and wanting to do something to help his family, Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) sneaks out into the darkness to try his hand at hunting again. Thomasin follows him and demands to go along or she’ll grass him up to their dad. While in the woods the pair are separated (Thomasin is knocked unconscious), the dog is ripped apart by unknown forces and Caleb has an encounter with a seductive witch. Once again Thomasin is forced to return home without a sibling and the family is fraught.

When Caleb turns up later, delirious and naked, Katherine is convinced that witchcraft is at play (you think?) and prays over Caleb. Unfortunately, our boy is not long for this world and shuffles off, not before throwing up an apple and presenting a beautifully serene monologue. In the melee, the twins get upset because they can’t remember the words to the Lord’s Prayer and accuse Thomasin of being a witch. In retaliation, she tells her parents about their incessant chatter with Black Phillip.

BlackPhillip

Cursed cursed image

To shut them all up William locks the remaining children in the goat pen with the big man himself. Later they witness an old witch drinking the blood from another goat.

I shan’t spoil the ending but there are more fatalities, some fantastic Black Phillip dialogue and a distressing breast-feeding scene which I can feel deep inside my core when I close my eyes. Let’s just say by the end all the paranoia and the ominousness pays off.

Witches. Witches everywhere.

Screen-Shot-2016-05-12-at-1.39.31-PM

My Thoughts

I couldn’t love this more. It’s such a great example of a powerful modern horror and it ticks all my personal boxes. Everything about the way it looks, from the blue-tinged filter to the stark landscape works in its favour, while the tall trees framing the farm land add to the feeling of being forever watched. I actually feel cold and uncomfortable watching this – and I like it.

All the performances are spot on but Anya is incredible here, all doe-eyed and on the cusp of womanhood. The conclusion is deeply satisfying and stunning, I think. It makes me want to shed my undergarments and join a coven.

In terms of theme, The Witch explores the concept of persecution against women (but of course), female empowerment, black magique, puberty, familial ties – so many topics and its open to your own interpretation too. So make of it what you will but check it out please, I love.

My Rating

4/5.

What did my favourite witch make of this? Would she dance naked with it around the bonfire or feed it to Black Phillip? Find out here, obvi.

The Art of Loving (Film) Review

Free for all month and we start June with this biopic of awesome polish gynaecologist Michalina Wislocka, a sex campaigner who rocked the sex lives of polish women forever. My new favourite heroine basically.

*Spoilers*

The Art of Loving. Story of Michalina Wislocka (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

Michalina Wislocka, the most famous and recognized sexologist of communist Poland, fights for the right to publish her book, which will change the sex life of Polish people forever.

sztukakochania

My Review

Michalina Wislocka was a well-respected gynaecologist and massive influence over the sex lives of women living and loving in Poland under communist rule. An activist for sex ed for all, we meet her (played perfectly by Magdalena Boczarskaat the beginning of this biopic as the author of a new book entitled “The Art of Loving”.

Unfortunately, she faces a hell of an opposition from the communist party, the censors and the church because of her frank talk and non-academic way of phrasing things so everyone can understand them. Plus the mostly male objectors just don’t care much about women’s pleasure (who knew?). As she battles to get her tome published, without sacrificing any of its vital content (including the chapter on the female orgasm), we learn how she became the great woman she was.

TAOL takes us from current day (the seventies) back to the birth of Michalina’s forward thinking ways during the war and to her first marriage to a biologist that ended in a long-term love triangle with her best friend Wanda. Wanda is brought into the domestic mix so that Michalina doesn’t have to shag her husband, whom she loves dearly but doesn’t fancy (or rather, she finds sex painful). The relationship comes to a head (pnar) many years and two children (by different mums) later when her husband decides he loves Wanda and Wanda angrily demands the right to be loved too.

maxresdefault

Following the bust up of her family life, Michalina throws herself into her work and research and this eventually brings her to meet a new lover. Sex becomes a thing of pure joy and opens up a whole new world to our heroine. While the relationship is ultimately doomed from the start, it’s valuable lessons certainly contribute to Micalina’s success.

Will she get this damn book published and see it reprinted a further billion times* in her lifetime?

I really enjoyed this film, which marries serious subject matter with a wry sense of humour. Boczarska is magnificent as Michalina. She plays her part with relish and is completely believable as a warrior for women’s sex rights. It’s also poignant as fuck when she finds out her old lover has passed away years later. 

I’m quite cross with myself that I didn’t know more about this incredible woman before now and I definitely recommend this film, which in parts sort of reminded me of Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017) – must be because of the threesomes!

SZTUKA KOCHANIA  - © Fot Jaroslaw Sosinski / Watchout

My Rating

4/5. Sex-tastic!

What did my sex pot think of this? Would she censor the fudge out of it or send it a lifetime supply of johnnys? Find out here.

*Not actual figures.